John Dickinson High School. Ursuline Academy. Newark Charter School. Sussex Academy.
All told, students at about 20 schools throughout Delaware will walk out of their school simultaneously on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
What are they protesting? Well, with President Donald Trump’s chaotic administration dominating the news, you might have already forgotten about a deadly massacre that took place last month at a south Florida high school. On Feb. 14, a former student at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland stormed the school with an AR-15-style gun. All told, 17 people were killed in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
In the past, the response to these incidences (largely by Republicans who even Trump admitted were “afraid” of the NRA) has been to play a broken record that simply repeats, “Now is not the time to talk about guns … Now is not the time to talk about guns … Now is not the time to talk about guns.”
Well, students in Delaware and across the country are sick of that record, because they’re the ones on the front lines while legislators, locally and in Washington, twiddle their thumbs amid the increasing specter of gun violence.
“It’s our turn to take a stand and change our community,” Ellen Schlecht, a sophomore at Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy, told the News Journal. “Change the way people view us as teenagers. Change the way people see the guns in our world. Change the gun laws within our cities, states and country. But most importantly, we are making sure this never happens again.”
Students say principals and teachers have largely been supportive of their desire to lend their voice to the discussion about gun control. For instance, administrators at Dickinson High School might not be promoting the walkout, but they have told students they won’t be punished for standing up for what they believe. The same goes for many schools throughout the state.
At least their words aren’t falling on deaf ears, at least here in Delaware. Gov. John Carney wants to ban the sale of assault-style rifles in the state, and the Delaware House passed a measure that would ban the sale of bump stocks and enact stiffer penalties for straw purchases of guns, which are then sold to someone prohibited from purchasing firearms.
Unfortunately, some administrators in the state are responding in ways that question the value they place in their student’s independence. In Sussex County, the Indian River School District isn’t permitting its students to walk out, calling it a “major safety concern” and claiming it would be a “disruptive event to the educational process for all students.”
Superintendent Mark Steele is probably right. After all, there’s probably no educational benefit in teaching and empowering students about their constitutional rights and responsibilities, and to articulate their viewpoints in a manner that’s respectful of everyone involved.
Compare his response to the praise offered to students by Brandywine Superintendent Mark Holodick, who supports the Second Amendment.
“I applaud their efforts and know, having spent much time around them, they have the intellect and passion to push their issue and accomplish what they set out to,” Holodick wrote. “Their right to peacefully and appropriately express their discontent will indeed be honored. Students respect and appreciate being treated equitably and fairly. They deserve it.”
I know where I’d rather have my kids go to school. How about you?